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Success Through Simplicity at Dairy Kastle

By TODD ZEIGLER
Copy Editor

Dairy Kastle, the famous chili dog and soft serve walk-up at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Bradley Avenue, is the kind of place that can be summed up by a conversation that happened in line on a recent Friday:

“Hey! Is this your first time?”

“Yes!”

“Congratulations!”

That’s the kind of emotion the beloved little shop on the outskirts of the UofL campus engenders. Standing in line under the Summer sun is a rite of passage akin to a first taste of Chicago deep dish or an authentic Nathan’s hot dog from a New York street vendor.

Though switching ownership hands occasionally over the years, Dairy Kastle has built and maintained a loyal and fanatical (the full word is necessary, as “fan” seems too fairweather for it) base since 1974 with a strategy that must drive proprietors of some of the revolving-door eateries in town mad: simple, delicious offerings that keep customers coming back to the communal hot spot. If the Cardinals’ sports complex were a few blocks closer, Dairy Kastle would make great grandstand fare.

We sampled a variety of favorites and found them all to be the stuff childhood memories are made of – indulgent enticements toward a return trip. For just under $20, a bevy of hot and cold treats provided a perfect, belly-bulging segue into Memorial Day weekend.

The standout of the group was the spark-of-inspiration Taco in a Bag ($1.75), a snack-size parcel of Fritos serving as a nest for sour cream, beans, chili, nacho cheese and jalapenos. Drop all health consciousness at the door; this delectable mishmash of ingredients is plenty filling. It’s hard to resist throwing caution to the wind, ripping open the bag and licking it clean.

We ordered a bevy of chili dogs ($1.50), including one of a vegan recipe, to compare and contrast the beef and beefless varieties and put our imaginations to the test over what should ride on top. The dogs were of a leaner variety, leaving plenty of room on top and in the crevices for sauces, chili and other accoutrements. The vegan dog lacked some of the flavorful juiciness and body of the traditional type, but offered a pleasing facsimile of the iconic taste as well as a pleasing, bloat-free conclusion.

The Kastle offers plentiful never-fail sauces and a healthy assortment of veggie toppings such as onions and jalapenos. Choose from solid or nacho cheese depending on your textural preference. The buns stayed firm and intact no matter what we piled inside.

The pulled pork barbecue ($3.00) was tangy and tender, ballpark-level delicious. The price puts it mid-range within Dairy Kastle’s offerings, a very agreeable scale indeed.

On the chilled side, we opted for something simple and something extravagant. The Brown Derby ($2) is a tall swirl of vanilla ice cream, encased in a solid, thin shell of semi-sweet chocolate atop a kiddie cone that was a pleasing combination. The banana split is piled high with three scoops of ice cream individually slathered with chocolate, strawberry and pineapple sauce. Nuts are injected liberally throughout. The concoction was so bountiful and indulgent, we could scarcely finish it and regretted leaving any behind.

Seating is sparse at Dairy Kastle: only a pair of picnic tables dotting the small parking lot. That’s no complaint – merely an observation. Dairy Kastle is the sort of place one frequents on the way to any manner of mid-year entertainment or endeavor. Head down to become part of the tradition.

Dairy Kastle is located at 575 Eastern Pkwy. For more information, go to www.dairykastle.com.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune

One Response to “Success Through Simplicity at Dairy Kastle”

  1. Katherine

    Thank you for the great article and pictures! We love serving up delicious food and making people smile! If it looks like the tables in front are full, no worries because we have 4 more tables plus benches on the side.

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